Recent reports indicate that the retail sector in Houston is showing some improvement. Houston continues to show population growth, and slowly "Black Boxes" have been leased, filling empty shopping centers, and many vacant propertieshave gradually leased. New construction has largely ceased because of the lack of bank financing, but Grubb and Ellis, and REIS Reports, have both confirmed that Houston's retail sector is stabilizing and showing improvement. Retail sales are slowing rising to the highest levels in 3 years.
The industrial, shipping, and port sectors have brought in billions of dollars and still move forward, while the energy sector's high oil prices and expansion of natural gas drilling is also helping the Houston economy. The industrial sector has been slow, but many new and emergy industrial concerns are popping up in Houston, because of the historic business attraction and advantages of the city.
What is the difference betwen a cemetary and a Houston Bank? The cemetary has flowers and birds singing.The lower, middle, and middle upper classes are still showing high unemployment, because the banking sector is not lending to small or medium sized businesses.
It is that simple. No bank lending, no jobs. Banks in Houston should take China and Germany's example. There banks are lending to these businesses, and job growth is increasing rapidly creating a foundation for the entire economy to grow. China is now again at a 4+% growth in GDP, and Germany stopped it's recession and is showing a 2% GDP growth, because of the banking sector's leadership.
Banks, in spite of many bank executives disdain for Obama, will slowly come to the conclusion that if they don't lend, they don't make profits, and that banking is an economic industry, blind to color, political leaning (not to mention age, sex and cultural/social differences). Banking is a fiduciary trust to serve the economic needs of the community. Bankers can only blame it on regulators for so long. Indeed, the regulatory agencies have sent a strong message out of Washington, DC that banks need to serve their communities, if not because of the CRA law, but because it is the basic charter requirement of the Federal Reserve to "create a stable economy". The Feds just approved new SBA funding, and a new program for lending to small business, to try to encourage banks to get back into the game. These loans require a unique environmental report with special qualifications of the inspector that companies such as Environmental Solutions have qualified. (http://environment-solutions.com)
Apartments, once over built in Houston, have benefited from the lack of financing for new homes and occupancy levels have stabilized in Houston.
Foreclosures of housing are still up, but commercial foreclosures are spotty. This suggests that property owners should considerhaving assets appraised again, to verify and create a documented "base" of value, to avoid predatory lenders or bottom feeders from trying to seize their assets. See the article at: http://www.bootheglobalperspectives.com/article.asp?offset=0&id=345
You might want to contact BBAR INC or Boothe and Associates (http:www.benboothe.com) as they are experts in the asset protection valuation area.
Finally, we see some sign of increased spending among consumers.
Things are not yet perfect, but Houston is the trend setter for the State of Texas, and seems to be getting slowly better economically.